Today ... we all [went] to the temple as a mission and the people that are finishing their mission [got] to have a special meeting with the temple President. It's crazy to think that some of these people are finishing the missions! Especially the fact that some of the sisters are finishing and when I started they were only halfway done, yeah, it's way too short!
This week was pretty sweet though. Actually, it was ridiculously tough with some cool blessings along the way. We've been really struggling to find people in our area and it seems like we're lucky if we get to talk to even one Hispanic person on the street throughout the day. Haha the other day we were super excited because we knocked a door and a Hispanic person answered! Yeah, it's been tough to find [people], but God is blessing us for our diligence.
Unfortunately our teaching pool has kind of shrunk this week with us having to drop some people and some people dropping us, but [the father of the member family] is still doing incredibly. He still has not accepted a Baptismal Date even though we've gone over all the questions with him. We've figured out that he's afraid of failing, so he doesn't want to take the step of baptism quite yet. We had a super good lesson with him about Faith and just trusting that even though we won't be perfect God will make up for what we lack. We're hoping he'll be baptized on October 2nd which will be super awesome! A Father of a part-member family, haha there's literally nothing cooler!
Other than that, it's just been diligently working with little fruit showing... I've been praying a ton to know how to work this area, especially since the leaders keep asking us why we're not finding. They're very understanding of the difficulties of the area, but they obviously still have to ask just in case they can help. Haha it's been kind of funny though, every time I pray and then search for answers in the scriptures I just keep coming up with "be patient in your afflictions". So Elder Gleed and I will continue to keep working and waiting for God to put his people in our path!
Other than that not too much has happened, it's been a week of emotional refining, a lot of prayer, self searching, and learning more and more how to rely on the Lord. Haha, I think that's one of the biggest things I'm out here to learn. Every transfer I'm forced to rely on the Lord more and more, and just when I think I'm doing a pretty good job of it I have to give up even more of myself and let him take the reins. It's been a good process of change, and while it is difficult, I've been able to see a big change in myself, and I know that the Lord has been with me, and as far as I know I think he's relatively pleased with the efforts we're putting forth. That's my goal, make sure that He is never ever disappointed in my efforts.
It's incredible to think that literally every hour of every day we have here is consecrated directly to the Lord, it's a heavy responsibility, though in reality it makes me realize that that is how life should be lived. Of course there are different ways to consecrate time, not all time can be given to God by knocking doors or preaching the Gospel in the streets. Spending time with family, working for our family, helping friends, all of it is consecrating time to the Lord if we are doing what is right. Anyways, not too much to write, but I'll give a brief testimony.
The work is a true work. I love the opportunity to serve as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bear his name, and to speak and do what he would have me say and do. I know that the Church is guided by Jesus Christ and that the Book of Mormon is convincing evidence of the reality of this latter-day work. I bear my witness of the reality of the atonement of Jesus Christ to change lives. It does not matter the situation, circumstance, sin, pain, or illness, Christ can and will heal us as we turn to him. I get to see it every day as the Spirit touches the lives of the people with whom we speak. I get to see it every day in my own life as I try to repent daily and become the man that God would have me be. I know that the Atonement changes us, and there is nothing I would rather be doing than helping people receive that change, and the peace it brings, in their own lives. I know that happiness is only found in the Gospel.
One of our recent converts is still so caught up in the world, he believes that being buff, living the high life, are the only ways to true happiness. That is a lie of the devil. Happiness comes as we allow Christ to become a part of our lives, as we follow his will and become more like him. Happiness is the purpose of this life, and it is always achievable because of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ lives, and He is our Savior.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
"Well, this week marks the past the middle mark of yet another transfer, and the fact that I'm coming up on my nine month mark, ha, that's super weird, I'm still super young in the mission, but it's weird to see all these people that I've known here in the mission getting ready to head on home...
Anyways, for some cool updates on what's up in life and in the life of the investigators we have this week was pretty interesting. ... the father of the part member family we have is progressing quite a bit! He loves to meet with us and we were able to meet with him this last Thursday with his Home teacher and have an awesome lesson. We invited him to be baptized, but he didn't quite accept a date, nevertheless he says he's not running away from it. Then Saturday we went to the VC with him and his family which was super awesome! We were able to talk about eternal families with the temple right there with him and all his kids. He said it was an inspiring tour, we once again invited him to be baptized, but he's still not too sure about the date. ... It's going to be one of the coolest baptisms ever! He also came to church this Sunday with his family, once again just super awesome to see them all walk in together! He was even in a white shirt and tie and then he went to a general stake priesthood meeting with his son later that night, haha yeah, super ready, he just doesn't know it yet. He's going to be an awesome convert and super strong in the gospel!"
"[The young man who was baptized] is still doing well, he's got some struggles, but we've been able to help him out and teach some powerful lessons. He'll be ordained to the priesthood as soon as possible and we're really pushing to have him get a calling and home teachers as soon as possible!
Haha, ok then we had this super crazy experience! So after the hurricane we'd been driving by somebody's house and we saw that some tree branches had fallen on their cars and such. We stopped and offered to help but no one was home, so we removed the branches and piled them off to the side, took some pictures in case their insurance needed it, as well as to protect us, and then left a note with them. Nothing happened from it, but then one night we were driving by there and we had like two minutes left to do something and we didn't know what else to do, so we decided to stop by their house and see how they were doing. Turns out they're home and the father immediately invites us into the house. He knew we were the ones that had helped him and he was super nice! He introduces us to his kids, etc. Then he starts talking about how he knows all these things about the church, about the Book of Mormon, about Joseph Smith, about the Angel Moroni, etc. because his friends in high school were members. The whole time he's saying this, Elder Gleed and I are just thinking, man, this guy is super prepared! But then, ... he starts asking us about whether or not we believe we're saved by grace alone, or if we can "earn our way into heaven".... we calmly explain that our works bring us closer to Jesus Christ who is the person that then saves us and takes us to God. ... He starts complimenting us on our zeal for the work of God and such, and we're still kind of cautious about what's going on, but we're feeling pretty good about everything, and then he drops a bombshell on us! He calmly looks at us, looks us straight in the eye and says "I wish we had that much zeal for the truth, as you do... for a lie." Yeah, super crazy... Well we're kind of stunned that he's just told us that to our faces as we're sitting in his house with his kids right there, but we calmly look at him and begin to testify of the truthfulness of our message. We clearly and plainly state that our purpose is only to invite him to read and pray to know for himself because we know it's true. Then he keeps trying to bible bash us, but we calmly avoid it through testimony. Then he starts to tell us that we are not Christian. He explained that to him, if Joseph Smith was a prophet that means that God's work, Christ's suffering was incomplete and that God had to turn to a 14 yr. old boy to fix it for him. ... We explained the purpose of a prophet, etc. and the loss of authority, but the man just did not want to listen. Then he says to us that if the Book of Mormon is real it means that the Bible was not enough, and that thus Christ's suffering was not enough, and that what we were saying was blasphemy.... We again bore calm and sure testimony, of the reality of Joseph Smith, of the Church, of the Book of Mormon, and of our knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior, and then we left. ... Hopefully one day he will remember the testimonies we bore...
There's definitely no way that Elder Gleed or I will forget that experience, it was super intense, and full of the spirit. Luckily we avoided bashing, haha though the temptation was definitely there! Still, it was interesting.
Elder Gleed in four weeks has now been called Satan, been bashed by some Muslims, been called a Blasphemer, and faced down another ... guy that said that having prophets is denying Christ. haha, it's crazy, but it's sweet that he's getting so many experiences!
Then one other thing that was super amazing happened. Here at the Visitors Center we have these things called nights of Music and Inspiration where it's pretty much a music and the spoken word put on by the missionaries. Haha, because I play the piano I've had the chance to perform in a couple of them, and once again got to perform last night, but that's not the cool part. It was just an incredible night, easily the most spiritually powerful one that I've been to. It was focused on a journey through the life of the Savior and had narrations, testimonies, and amazing musical performances. The spirit was so so thick, you honestly could've cut it with a knife. When it finished and the closing prayer had been said nobody moved and everyone whispered, if they even spoke at all, because you could feel the spirit so strongly. It was an even more powerful witness to me of the reality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his mission for us. He truly is the center of everything we do in this life, and his atonement is literally all curing and all powerful. It was just an amazing opportunity to feel the power of Christ's atonement expressed in Music and pure testimony. It was just so incredible!
Then today we had a fall sports day as a mission. So we got together as a whole mission and played sports for four hours! It was awesome, we had a game called hero ball, which is soccer, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, and capture the flag all the same field. Haha, it was super awesome!
Anyways, the mission is going super good, amazing miracles literally happen daily, and Elder Gleed and I are doing well. ... He's a super good missionary!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
"... As for my week, it was a pretty normal week, except for the fact that [our investigator] received the [gift of the] Holy Ghost! That was awesome, it's so cool to see how much he's grown in such a short time, he's now preparing to receive the aaronic priesthood, and it's awesome because he really does recognize the importance and the responsibility of the priesthood. He's 18 and he's a senior in high school by the way. Unfortunately his family isn't really supporting him, the father doesn't mind, but he says he's not interested, and the mother and brother live in Mexico but aren't too interested right now either. Still, in our lessons we've had with him he always prays so sincerely that his family will come to a knowledge of the truth as well. It's awesome because he has such a sincere desire to change his life, and now he's starting to see how he's changed and it's strengthened his testimony even further.
Oh we also had some super awesome success with our part member families again! We met with an Hermano whose wife and family are active members, ..he's overcome a lot of challenges in his life, even alcoholism, and now he's ready to investigate the church. He says he feels like we have something more than he does, like we have more light is what he said, haha super awesome! He's super willing to read and learn and committed himself to reading in the Book of Mormon for 1/2 hour every day!! Super awesome, we're expecting him to be baptized soon!
... the other part member family member is also doing amazingly! We had an awesome lesson on the Book of Mormon with him and his family Saturday night and he committed to come to church this Sunday, and he did! Man, it was so cool to see the whole family come in instead of just the wife and kids. He's such a good man, and he's really trying to learn for himself whether or not these things are true. He also came to a spanish Family Home Evening SUnday night at Pres. Matsumori's house, and he came without his wife!! Yeah, super awesome progress, and then they were at a ward activity Monday as well. Man, it's been super awesome!
Oh, we also had two ward activities this week, Friday we had a Ward mission activity where we took people on a tour of the three kingdoms, it was pretty interesting, and a little stressful, but as usual it all turned out in the end. Then this Monday there was a ward bbq because it was labor day, so that was pretty fun and a great opportunity for fellowshiping of [the investigators]. In other words, things are going pretty well! The Bishop is pleased with the success we're seeing in the ward and we keep working hard.
Haha, yesterday was kind of hard though, we knocked quite a bit, and it was raining, and very few people were answering the door, it was a long day! Still, if there's one thing I've learned on the mission it's the importance of attitude, hopefully my companion can learn that a little bit as well, he didn't enjoy yesterday too much haha! Things are going well though, I haven't had too many incredible insights or anything ;) I have been studying the priesthood recently though, and it's amazing to study the doctrine of the priesthood and really understand the power it has to change us, and how it enables us to serve in such a better capacity. I'm still loving the mission, and every time I think about the fact that I've been out for over 8 months, coming on 9, it honestly makes me want to throw up... Yeah, time is going by way too quickly, I still feel like I just started the mission and now it's been a year since I even entered into college... I'm afraid it'll all be over far too soon, but I'm sure going to work hard and enjoy it while I've still got a lot of time! It's weird though, I honestly feel like I just saw you guys, and I feel like Mother's day was just like last week when I talked to you all, but the date says otherwise. Haha crazy!"
"... Well, that's all for now, I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!"
Friday, September 2, 2011
Well, there goes another week! It goes by so quickly... Anyways, not too much happened this week, except for a BAPTISM!!! Yeah, it was sweet, [The golden investigator] was baptized this Sunday! Haha, it was really a cool experience, he's super ready and really wanted to just be clean and have the help and strength of the Holy Ghost in his life.
I can honestly say that there is nothing as good as seeing someone enter into the covenant of baptism! He may have a little bit of a tough week with it being the first week of school over here and there being a lot of temptations and old friends around, but he's extremely motivated by the fact that he wants to be worthy to receive the Holy Ghost this week so that he'll be able to have even more help in the future. In short, he's awesome!
President also came to the baptism which was cool for Francisco, and he gave us permission to take him out with us on splits this week even though he's not technically a member yet, so we took him out with us on Monday and he loved it! Haha he's super set on being a missionary, and we're really excited for him!
We're also seeing some cool miracles with some part member families we're working with that are beginning to show signs of progressing towards baptism, it's cool to see so many miracles just about every day! Man, I just love the gospel so much!
Oh another random kind of interesting experience. On Monday we were called Satan! Yep, straight to our faces! We were talking to this one lady on the street and she just kept talking about how good she was and how she already knew God so much but no one else did. We were polite with her and I'm sure she's a great lady, but then we began to testify about the reality of the Book of Mormon and of the restored church, and at first it was like there was just this cloud of nothingness around her because not a single word we said reached her. Finally after some testimony bearing it seemed to reach her and we realized we'd just wasted like a half hour. Haha at that point she said "You guys are Satan! Do you even know what Mormon means?" So then I immediately think oh great, she's about to pull the Mammon card... and she did! After explaining that he was a prophet in the Book of Mormon she said "Nope, my pastor said that that's a devil book and that you guys are Satan! " "Actually it's another testament of Jesus Christ and if you read and pray about it you can know for yourself" "You guys are Devils!" "Ok, have a good day m'am, we know what we've shared with you is true" and then we walked away. Haha, yeah, it was a pretty interesting experience, my companion seems to be getting broken into the mission rather quickly!